Happy Easter Everyone!
It feels like a bit of an odd one for me this year, because it only feels like yesterday we were celebrating Christmas, and the weather certainly doesn’t seem to have changed much since then…! Still, Easter it is, and if nothing else, it means Spring is (kind of) here, and it is once again appropriate to eat chocolate for breakfast! Yay! Of course, the best thing about Easter for me is a lovely 4 day weekend, which couldn’t come soon enough for me – the clocks changing this year seems to have taken it out of me more than usual and I feel like a bit of a rest is well overdue. By the time this post goes live I should be comfortably in the middle of a lovely break having consumed a lot of food, truckloads of chocolate and most importantly, a decent helping of gin!
For this month’s Ginspiration post I thought I’d combine two of those things by bringing you Hotel Chocolat’s Cocoa Gin. I mean, it’s Easter, right? What better way to celebrate than with chocolate gin?! Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Chocolate and gin doesn’t actually sound like a winning combination, does it? They aren’t flavours that you would typically put together, and I was equally skeptical. But I I am committed to my mission to try ALL THE GIN, so here I am, drinking weird sounding cocoa gin, so you don’t have to in case it’s minging. I’m really selfless like that. Anyway, here goes…
The Expert’s Description…
“A distinctive, contemporary English gin. As cocoa growers in Saint Lucia, we know distilling with the shell adds a subtle toasted edge. Harmonises with a host of botanicals.
Botanicals flourish: each plays its part…
– Cocoa for an edge of toasted nut and dark chocolate
– Macadamia for creaminess
– Juniper and coriander for high notes
– Orange and grapefruit peel for a bit of zing
Malty edge of cocoa pairs perfectly with sweeter citrus notes.”
The Layman’s Description…
The first thing you will notice about this gin is the aroma, which is…. okay, I’m going to be completely honest, for me it was horrid. There was something that overwhelmingly reminded me of Tequila, which I hate, so I was instantly put off. Bad start, and I think that soured things somewhat, because my first sip wasn’t great either. It tasted STRONG. Not strong in a ‘full of flavour’ kind of way either, strong in a ‘wow, I may have put way too much gin in this gin’ kind of way! I honestly didn’t get any of the normal flavours that I would associate with a classic gin, it tasted of alcohol and not much else. It was not looking good. Still, you know what a skinflint I am. I wasn’t about to pour a whole glass of gin down the drain – I’m not an animal!! So I persevered! I stuck with it, and actually, after a while I have to say, it started to grow on me! The longer I had it the more it mellowed and I really started to taste the cocoa overtones, by the end I think I’d actually decided it was a pretty pleasant drink! So the verdict? Definitely not one for those new to the world of gin, it’s a very distinctive taste and not at all like your average spirit. However it gets pretty good reviews, and I think those with a more sophisticated palette will be able to pick out the subtle botanicals far quicker than I did. This is probably the marmite of gins!
How To Drink It…
Many of it’s fans seem to think it is best drunk neat, but I have to say I am just not hardcore enough – this is a very strong gin! I personally went for the classic serve with plenty of ice and tonic. Hotel Chocolat recommend you garnish with a generous wedge of orange or grapefruit, so I went with orange, which I’d agree is a great match – chocolate orange has always been a favourite combination of mine! Apparently, due to it’s smooth character, it’s the perfect gin to add to a Martini. I have to admit, the Martini is not really my thing (I’m too much of a wimp for a spirits only drink – I need a bit of mixer in my cocktails!) so I haven’t tried this, but my Dad is a more discerning drinker than me, so maybe I’ll knock one up for him next time he’s around and see what he thinks!
A little bonus story for you (I know you love it when I waffle…). You will notice I only have a miniature bottle in these photographs. I do actually have a full size bottle, bought for me as a Christmas gift by my boss, except the contents of that lovely, tall, slim bottle – which was made of very thin and delicate glass – now reside in an old Waitrose Soave bottle because when I was putting all my Christmas gifts in a bigger bottle bag (yes, I get a lot of gin for Christmas…) I somehow knocked the neck of the bottle clean off! Cue a panicked rush to the kitchen to find a funnel and some muslin, and I managed to salvage a decent amount of it, but that old wine bottle doesn’t look quite as classy and always draws a few confused comments from our guests!
By the way, I also got some gin truffles with that bottle, and while chocolate gin might be a bit of an acquired taste, I can confirm that gin chocolate is most definitely delicious!